“The People of God”

Alan C. Miner

According to Louis Midgley, the name and description of the community (or church) in the Book of Mormon was People of God (Mosiah 25:24; Alma 2:11, 19:14; 4 Nephi 1:40), or Covenant People of the Lord (1 Nephi 14:14; 2 Nephi 30:2; Mormon 8:15,21). Those names, as well as a complex of related language, are linked with the making and renewal of the covenant binding the faithful to God. The covenant was at times renewed through rituals involving the entire community. Those rituals admonished and constituted, as they did with ancient Israel, what the Book of Mormon calls "ways of remembrance" (1 Nephi 2:24).

The constant stress on cursings and blessings, and the offering of sacrifices, coupled with the reading and explication of an account of the creation functioned as the historical prologue to the covenant, and formed the emblematic and dogmatic horizon in which the life and sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth was taught and understood. In this day and age, are we not to remember as the Nephites of old remembered? And are we not to remember curses brought upon the Nephites, which they inflicted upon themselves by forgetting the terms of the covenant? Are we not to understand that we are cut off from the presence of God--that is, in bondage and captivity--to the extent that we do not remember the terms of our covenants, including the Book of Mormon? The sacred records . . . provide us with prophetic direction and warning by preserving and enlarging our own memory of God's mighty deeds, and of the terms of the covenant that made them (and us) the People of God. [Louis Midgley, "Prophetic Messages or Dogmatic Theology? Commenting on the Book of Mormon: A Review Essay," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, 1989, pp. 98-99]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary